Imbalance between exports and imports continues in Israel

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CAL Cargo Airlines at Liege Airport

Exports from Israel are down and there continues to remain a market imbalance between exports and imports.

CAL Cargo Airlines vice president for commercial Ronen Regerman explains to Air Cargo Week: “Exports from Israel are down and prices are lowered since most are highly dependent on the season, while import remains strong. There is stronger competition now than ever before, with other large players entering the market.”

He says the Israeli market has a “typical” market imbalance with a wide gap between exports and imports, but overall it is a steady market, and CAL continues to be the leading cargo player in the market and is “performing at our expectations with small growth in 2016”.

The best performing trade lanes from Israel are to Europe, the Transatlantic corridor and to Asia, which is growing fast.

There is fierce competition in the marketplace from other carriers, while seafreight is a major force in the region owing to Israel’s long Meditteranean coastline.

One of the main focuses for CAL has been the cool-chain segment, especially pharmaceuticals and perishables. Israel is somewhat of a hot-bed for pharma and temperature controlled and special products manager, Navot Hirschhorn says: “In export, the most in-demand sector is perishables – specifically flowers and fresh spices.

“However, agriculture is volatile dependent on the season and is not as strong as it used to be. Agriculture is also being shipped by sea more and more, another source of competition.

“In import the quantities of perishable and food such as meat and fresh fish have grown during the last few years.

“Pharma is also a key sector for the Israeli market although it has weakened slightly, and CAL is a major player in this field.”

CAL was the first to receive the International Air Transport Association’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) certification for both carrier and ground handling operations, which Hirschhorn says is a big advantage.

Regerman feels there is weaknesses in the Israel air cargo market the main being the market imbalance while competition is growing.

He adds: “In addition, our unique geopolitical situation means we are limited in routes. We have no possibility to feed from outer station ex-Israel like in Europe. Perishable exports are suffering from climate changes.”

The Israeli market is technologically advanced and logistics are consolidated to a high degree and three warehouses serve all the forwarders, so everything is in place for growth he says.

CAL operates daily flights from Tel Aviv to Europe (Liege) and the US (New York, Atlanta), as well as frequent flights to and from Larnaca using its fleet of Boeing 747-400’s.

The carrier has no new infrastructure development plans at its hubs in Tel Aviv and Liege, where its wholly owned ground handling company LACHS is located where it has 16,000 square metres of space, and the largest high-loader capacity (52 tonnes) in Europe.

Regerman says CAL will continue to maintain strong presence in Israel and adds: “In 2015 we opened an online station in Atlanta, which supports our efforts in the US. We are always evaluating new routes and targets as well as other efforts to improve our service and continue on our strategic plan for growth.”